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An Apportionment of Human DNA Diversity

Guido Barbujani, Arianna Magagni, Eric Minch and L. Luca Cavalli-Sforza
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 94, No. 9 (Apr. 29, 1997), pp. 4516-4519
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42042
Page Count: 4
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An Apportionment of Human DNA Diversity
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Abstract

It is often taken for granted that the human species is divided in rather homogeneous groups or races, among which biological differences are large. Studies of allele frequencies do not support this view, but they have not been sufficient to rule it out either. We analyzed human molecular diversity at 109 DNA markers, namely 30 microsatellite loci and 79 polymorphic restriction sites (restriction fragment length polymorphism loci) in 16 populations of the world. By partitioning genetic variances at three hierarchical levels of population subdivision, we found that differences between members of the same population account for 84.4% of the total, which is in excellent agreement with estimates based on allele frequencies of classic, protein polymorphisms. Genetic variation remains high even within small population groups. On the average, microsatellite and restriction fragment length polymorphism loci yield identical estimates. Differences among continents represent roughly 1/10 of human molecular diversity, which does not suggest that the racial subdivision of our species reflects any major discontinuity in our genome.

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